A few months ago, I started a personal journey to improve a specific area of my life where I feel I have self-sabotaged and/or had a mindset that it has negatively impacted my progress.
On this journey I have begun the process of adding positive affirmations into my daily routine. I have always been someone that has seen value in things like vision boards, goal setting, etc. but I have never sat down with very specific intentions to develop affirmations that could help me change my mindset. After a couple months of exploring this process, I have to say, I’m bought in. I truly believe I’ve seen improvements, so I wanted to share this process and overall idea with you.
First of all, what is an affirmation?
By definition, an affirmation is the act of confirming something to be true either by written or oral statements.
What role could these affirmations play in changing mindset?
The theory is that positive affirmations and statements can be used as a tool to help you challenge and overcome self-sabotaging negative thoughts. Our thoughts become our words, and our words become our behaviors. By reframing our thoughts to be “I can” or “I am” statements, we can start to change our beliefs and therefore our actions.
I can’t tell you the number of times someone has said something along the lines of “I’ll never lift that much weight”, or “I’ll never run a mile”, and I heard Jeff Giosi respond with “Well, not with that attitude!”, and he’s right. Our attitudinal shifts may be the missing link to getting what we want.
Life is short, and will be considerably shorter (or less enjoyable) if we don’t take care of ourselves. So instead of looking at a healthy lifestyle and the habits that encompass that as something that takes “sacrifice” or “hard work”, let’s make it something you enjoy and do because it makes you feel good.
Riiiight. Is there any science to back this up?
Trust me, I understand the logical brains out there saying “Enough with the hippy-dippy nonsense, Sarah, just give me a healthy recipe to try.” ..I hear you. Things like affirmations can feel unrealistic. Can our thoughts really make real-life changes?
In one study, researchers found that spending a few minutes a day on positive affirmations specifically relating to your performance at work before a high-pressure meeting or performance review, helped to calm nerves, increase confidence, and improve chances of a successful outcome.
In another study, scientists were able to show that self-affirmations may help mitigate effects of stress. In particular, they proved that using positive affirmations increased the problem-solving abilities of individuals suffering from “chronic stress” and enabled them to solve problems at the same level as those with low stress.
Additionally, here is a study showing how affirmations were used to treat women with low self-esteem and depression.
But can affirmations be used to help with health and fitness?
In some of the studies I cited above, they were able to show that positive affirmations stimulate areas in our brains that make us more likely to affect positive changes. This is not limited and can certainly include health.
Here’s another study that shows growing your self-confidence makes you more likely to improve your overall wellness. Using affirmations can help you change your mindset in such a way that you begin to change your values which results in changing your behaviors. – So if you are constantly affirming that you deserve to treat your body well, you may begin making choices for different foods or activities that result in healthier living.
Come on, that sounds too good to be true.
I get it. It feels like wishful thinking. – Changing your thought process can’t actually result in meaningful health changes, can it? Here’s the deal, we are wired wrong. Healthy living doesn’t have to mean restrictive behaviors and unending self-control. Seriously. I know this may be controversial, but what if we remove the idea of “no pain, no gain”. Instead, what if we change our mindset to think of the broccoli as something wonderful, instead of something that is a punishment or a necessary evil to reaching our goals. What if we view our workouts as fun? Let’s take the pressure off. Life is short, and will be considerably shorter (or less enjoyable) if we don’t take care of ourselves. So instead of looking at a healthy lifestyle and the habits that encompass that as something that takes “sacrifice” or “hard work”, let’s make it something you enjoy and do because it makes you feel good.
“Healthy living doesn’t have to mean restrictive behaviors and unending self-control.”
Is it really that easy?
No. Changing your mindset takes practice and time. You don’t just wake up one day and decide you are going to have a different mindset on a topic you’ve developed a fixed mindset on for years. You’ve been told your whole life that you are “big boned”, your whole life you’ve believed that losing weight means going on a “diet” that involves restrictions and strict limitations. You don’t change those thoughts overnight. Think of it this way: Many of us exercise to improve our physical health and fitness level. When we train regularly, each day we get a little better. Positive affirmations work like that, but instead of working on your physical body we are working on your outlook and mind. We have to repeat these mind exercises and each day we can get a little better. The goal is to reprogram our thinking patterns so that over time we think differently. Then those thoughts turn into action. Next thing you know, it’s not “hard” to get healthy and feel good. It’s a pleasure. It’s something you deserve. It’s a worth-while investment.
In the next few weeks, I’ll start to walk you through some steps on how to take this idea and begin to implement it into your daily routine. It isn’t hard, but it will involve opening your mind and devoting a little time to shifting your thinking to the positive.
To hear more about positive thinking today, check out:
Potential Podcast Episode 18 “Cons Of Complaining & Steps To Stop.”